Talk about having it all. At the age when most kids are figuring out creative lies for their résumé, Andy Roddick was the world's hottest pizza-loving, break-dancing, black-sock-wearing tennis player. A self-professed "goofball," he was handsome and charismatic, and had the entire sport eating out of his hand. At age 30, after a US Open championship and some unforgettable near-misses in Grand Slam finals, Andy called it quits. For an athlete who never gave anything less than 100 percent, hanging around the tour as a good-but-not-great player simply was not an option. This is his story…

GROWING UP

Andrew Stephen Roddick was born on August 30, 1982, in Omaha, Nebraska to Blanche and Jerry Roddick. (Click here for a complete listing of today's sports birthdays.) Blanche was a schoolteacher and Jerry was a businessman who struck it rich accumulating Jiffy Lube franchises. Rambunctious even as a newborn, Andy earned the nickname “Tiger” from the nurse who helped deliver him. To his mother’s amazement, Andy was lifting his head after just two hours.

Older brothers Lawrence and John showed early promise in tennis, and their parents did what they could to foster their ambitions. Naturally, Andy wanted to do whatever his siblings were doing and mimicked their strokes whenever he found an extra racket lying around. By his fourth birthday, he was banging the ball against the garage door, playing imaginary matches against Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker.

No one gave Andy much thought as a potential tennis star. His brothers were convinced their hammy younger sibling would become an actor. Or a baseball player. Andy had the skills and the bravado to back up just about any career aspiration. After he turned five, his mother found a legal pad with the words, “I can run faster, I can hit a ball far, I can catch every ball.”

That was the same year the Roddicks left Omaha for Boca Raton, Florida. There John and Lawrence were able to hone their tennis skills year-round on a backyard court. John stuck with the sport after the move (though he eventually was forced to quit because of a back injury). Lawrence became more interested in competitive diving. That left an opening on the other side of the net for Andy, who by the age of eight could hold his own against his brother and other kids much older.

In 1991, Andy’s parents gave him a fantastic birthday present: a trip to the U.S. Open in New York. That was the tournament that featured 39-year-old Jimmy Connors’s incredible run to the semifinals. Andy was captivated by Connors. He marveled at the veteran’s ability to stir up the crowd and then feed off its energy. That was the same kind of passion the youngster felt for the game.

After Connors retired, Andy latched on to Andre Agassi as his favorite player. Agassi also had the fire in his belly that Andy so admired. Like his new hero, Andy was not a big kid. In fact, he was quite short for his age. But older brother John was tall and talented, which gave Andy confidence that he would achieve the same stature sooner or later. Andy’s brashness was in full flower by the age of 10, when, during a tournament in which John was competing, he spotted a Reebok exec and offered him the deal of a lifetime to sign a “great tennis player.”

Incredibly, that is exactly what happened. Reebok inked Andy to play in its junior program. The relationship worked out nicely for both parties, as Andy moved through the juniors at steady pace.

By 1996, Andy finally began to grow, inching over five feet by December. When he sprouted another foot over the next few years, the resulting changes in his body played havoc with his game. Much of what Andy mastered at 15 he had to relearn at 16. His serve, in particular, was a mess. Used to firing spin serves as an undersized “tween,” he was now tall enough to cream the ball, but couldn’t find his groove. That happened during a practice one day, when a perplexed Andy walked to the baseline. Out of frustration, he threw the ball up and swung as hard as he could. The ball hissed into the service box. He reproduced this serve several more times. Certain he had stumbled upon something, bAndy egan to build on the basic mechanics. He increased his speed up to 100 mph, then 110 mph and eventually 120 mph. His old first serve, meanwhile, became his second serve (and would one day be a lethal weapon, too).

Andy attained his full height of 6-2 the summer he turned 17. He had grown some nine inches since his 15th birthday. His shoulders broadened, enabling him to pack on muscle in all the right places, and his timing came together. His strong wrists boosted his serving speed further and added pace to his booming forehand. This was the same time Andy started working full-time with Frenchman Tarik Benhabiles, a former Top-25 player who had made a name for himself molding the games of countrymen Cedric Pioline and Thierry Champion.

Andy tinkered with his ground strokes and serve during the 1999 season. With opponents back on their heels, he took the opportunity to experiment with the occasional slice and spin, and developed great feel for altering the pace and placement of his shots. Benhabiles, who had promised Andy he could win points without killing the ball, was pleased to see his protege discover this for himself at such a tender age.

Andy heated up at the end of '99, spurred on by a snub when it came to pick the U.S. team for the Sunshine Cup (the rough equivalent of the Davis Cup in junior tennis). He won the Eddie Herr Championship in Bradenton—an important international under-18 competition—then took the prestigious Orange Bowl title.

As Andy’s game matured, so too did his on-court demeanor. His amazing drive to win had often led to outbursts—made all the more stunning because he was such a gentleman at all other times. He was learning to channel that anger back into his game, an important step for developing players.

ON THE RISE

Andy began 2000 in style, becoming the first American since Butch Buchholz in 1959 to win the Australian Open Junior Championship. The victory convinced the teenager to turn pro, and earned him his first major endorsement deal, with SFX Sports Group, one of the world’s most influential sporting event promoters.

Andy made the leap in February, recording his official debut at the Citrix Championships in Delray Beach, Florida. For many 17-year-olds, the decision to go pro is a difficult one. In Andy’s case, it was a no-brainer. He already had one of the hardest serves in tennis, and the rest of his game flowed from there, including a top-notch forehand and volleying skills. To have a real chance at winning, however, he would have to steady his backhand and locate his second serve deeper in the box.


 


Jimmy Connors, 1986 Fax Pax

 

     
 

Andy’s first big event as a a pro was the Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne. He survived his first-round match against Fernando Vicente before encountering the tournament’s top seed: Agassi. The Saturday night match drew more than 12,000 fans, including many of Andy’s tennis friends and family members. Despite their support of the underdog, Agassi won easily, 6-2, 6-3. Though Andy gave his idol all he could handle with his serve and forehand, his backhand still lacked consistency, which ultimately cost him the match. Agassi, who ran Andy mercilessly from side to side, had nothing but good things to say afterward, predicting the teenager would soon join him at the top of the ATP rankings. Andy responded in kind, telling his hero what an honor it was to play him.

Andy played in seven more ATP events in '00 and finished the year ranked #160 on the men’s tour. He posted wins over Karol Kucera, Vicente and Fabrice Santoro—not exactly household names, but guys who typically eat teenagers for lunch. At the Legg-Mason in Washington D.C., Andy upset Adrian Voinea, Santoro and Kucera to reach the quarterfinals. There he met Agassi again. In a rain-interrupted match, he fell 6-4, 6-4.

Andy also competed in Junior tournaments right until his 18th birthday in August, winning the U.S. Open Juniors and the Sugar Bowl Classic. He injured his knee at the French Open Juniors, causing him to miss the Wimbledon Juniors, but he did well enough at this level—37-5—to finish as the world’s top-ranked Junior for 2000.

Andy also entered the main draw of the U.S. Open, where he lost to Albert Costa in the first round. He finished off the year by playing in the Sunshine Cup for the U.S. No snub this time around=, he led the team to a rare victory.

With his SPX bankroll, the odd check from Reebok and an additional $79,000 in tour winnings, Andy had money in his pocket for the first time. Yet except for picking up the occasional dinner tab, he played it cool his first year as a pro. In fact, he continued to sleep in his room at his parents house.


Andre Agassi, 2000 Tennis
     
 

The highlight of Andy’s year actually came in April, when Davis Cup captain John McEnroe invited him to be the team’s official practice partner prior to first-round matches with the Czech Republic. Andy got to hit with Agassi and Pete Sampras, and learned a lot from each. He was astounded how hard Agassi worked in practice—harder in many respects than he played in tournaments. As for Sampras, he came to appreciate how sublime the champion’s skills were when he faced him from across the net. Pistol Pete could indeed make any shot at any time.

Andy prepared for the 2001 season, his first full year on the pro tour, under the weight of high expectations. His big serve led to comparisons to Sampras. And with no other American teenagers as evolved, Andy was cast as the “future of U.S. men’s tennis.”

The pressure intensified in January when he won a USTA Challenger event in Hawaii—his third title in five Challenger appearances—then soared in February after new captain Patrick McEnroe named him to the U.S. Davis Cup squad. Andy was the fresh blood on the team, joining Todd Martin, Jan-Michael Gambill and Justin Gimelstob.

Unfortunately, the U.S. went down in flames for the sixth straight year, falling to Switzerland in Basle. Andy played in the fifth and final match, which was mathematically meaningless, as the Roger Federer and his teammates had already beaten America three times. But Andy’s clock-cleaning of George Bastl, a talented Top-100 players, provided a glimmer of hope for American tennis fans.

Six weeks later, Andy took a huge step. After six sparkling weeks of practice, he qualified for the draw of the Ericsson Open as a Wild Card entry, which earned him a slot across from Sampras. Early in the match, with 16,000-plus watching, Andy unleashed a serve clocked at 136 mph—right at Sampras. The ball closed on him so quickly that he ended up taking it right in the chest. This tied the match 2-2 and turned the tide of Andy’s career.

     
 

Sampras never recovered from this blow, and Andy—playing with a surge of confidence—committed only five errors during the match. Every time Sampras charged the net, Andy hit a low, blistering return. He took the first set tiebreaker, then dusted off Sampras in the second set, 6-3. Serving consistently in the 130s, he landed a remarkable 72 percent of his first attempts.

It was Andy’s first victory against a Top-10 player, and Sampras’s first loss to an 18 -year-old in a decade. The champion had nothing but great things to say about his conqueror after the match.

Two days later, after getting a pep talk from Agassi, Andy became the youngest player to reach the Ericsson quarterfinals, defeating Andrei Pavel, 7-6, 6-2. He hit several serves that approached 140 mph. Andy survived three set points to force the tiebreaker, which he won 12-10. Despite a loss in his next match to Lleyton Hewitt, the two victories moved Andy into the ATP’s Top 100 and guaranteed him a berth in the tour’s next major, the French Open.

Prior to Roland Garros, in April, Andy went to Atlanta and won the Verizon Tennis Challenge, defeating Xavier Malisse in the final. It marked the first time in a decade that an American teenager captured a men’s tour event. Andy proved this win was no fluke when he took the U.S. Men’s Clay Court title in Houston a week later, blowing Lee Hyung-Taik off the court. In less than two months, his ranking had soared more than 100 places to #21.

In Paris, Andy faced former French Open champ Michael Chang in the opening round. The wily veteran ran him ragged, and by the fifth set of their grueling marathon, Andy was fighting through cramps. In a scene reminiscent of Chang’s performance against Ivan Lendl on his way to winning the 1989 tournament, Benhabiles motioned from the stands for Andy to retire, but he waved off his coach and took the fifth set 7-5 to advance.

Andy showed a flair for working the crowd during this match and tore off his shirt after the final point. But when he recovered quickly enough from his cramps to appear at a dance club that evening, some doubted how much pain he had really been in.

Two rounds later, Andy tweaked his hamstring against Hewitt. This time he could not overcome the discomfort and had to pull out of the match. It was beginning to dawn on Andy that the physical demands of his sport were a bit greater than he had realized. He also had to work harder on the last weakness in his game, his backhand. It was shaky in Paris, and Chang and Hewitt had gone to town on him because of it.

One thing Andy did not have to worry about anymore was his second serve. Now a valuable weapon, it was coming in deep, with good pace and a devilish spin that caused it to explode upward, sometimes above the receiver‘s head. Andy was also developing a swagger that suggested to some that he was getting close to becoming a consistent championship contender.

Andy’s growing legion of believers also noted that he put his overabundance of energy to excellent use, logging time on the running track and often booking two practice sessions a day. A significant portion of these fans—screaming, giggling, jiggling teenage girls—did not care how much he trained. They just liked the final results.


Pete Sampras, 2001 Tennis
     
 

After losing to eventual champion Goran Ivanisevic in the third round at Wimbledon, Andy won his third pro event, the Legg-Mason Classic. He did so with astonishing ease, disposing of Marcelo Rios, Dominik Hrbaty and, in the final, Sjeng Schalken—who had upended Agassi in the semis the day before. As some observed, Andy seemed to put more effort into his extra-curriculars, taking in a Janet Jackson concert and hanging with former Maryland basketball star Steve Francis.

MAKING HIS MARK

In a little over a year, Andy had risen from 338th in the rankings to #18. The victory in D.C.—during which he broke the 140 mph barrier with his serve—made him the first American teenager to crack the Top 20 since Chang in the early 1990s. The last one to win three tournaments before age 20 was Sampras, 11 years earlier. The Palm Beach Post, Andy’s “home” paper, celebrated his Sampras-like skills and un-Sampras-like personality, calling him “Sampras unplugged.”

In his next major event of ‘01, Andy reached the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open, losing a five-set thriller to Hewitt (who like Ivanisevic also went on to win the tournament). he finished the year ranked #14.

Andy continued to lengthen his resume with impressive performances in 2002. He won at Memphis, defeating fellow American James Blake in the final. Next he defended his '01 win in Houston. This time he faced Sampras in the final and beat him soundly. Sampras later returned the favor at the U.S. Open on his way to the championship. Andy also reached the quarters at Wimbledon and helped the U.S. advance to the semifinals of the Davis Cup, though he proceeded to drop his two singles matches against France. At season’s end, Andy was the proud owner of the #10 ranking.

Andy started the 2003 season with an encouraging performance at the Australian Open. Down two sets to Mikhail Youzhny, he rallied to win and earn a quarterfinal berth. He eventually made it to the semis, where he lost to Rainer Schuettler. Andy was getting so close to a Grand Slam title he could almost taste it.


Andy Roddick, 2001 Tennis
     
 

Though he played well as winter turned to spring, Andy felt his game was lagging behind where it should be. In June, after an embarrassing loss to Sargis Sargisian in the first round of the French Open, he made a coaching switch and began to work with Brad Gilbert, Agassi’s one-time guru.

Gilbert, who mastered the art of “winning ugly” during his playing days, instilled in Andy an appreciation for finding imaginative ways to turn matches around when things were not going well. This quality, which kept players like Agassi and Sampras atop the rankings for so long, was the final piece of the puzzle. Andy’s first outing under Gilbert’s tutelage, the grasscourt event at Queen’s Club, resulted in a championship.

Andy was constructing points better and keeping his cool when things did not go his way. Instead of bulling his way through tough times, he began using his head. After advancing to the semis at Wimbledon, he won hardcourt titles in Indianapolis, Toronto, and Cincinnati.

Andy’s love life was looking good, too. He had struck up a relationship with recording artist Mandy Moore, and things were going well. All that remained was that elusive first Grand Slam victory.

The field heading into the 2003 U.S. Open featured many contenders but no clear-cut favorite. Agassi, now 33, was the sentimental choice. He would have to overcome Wimbledon winner Federer and the '01 champion Hewitt, who seemed due for a major win. The dark horse was Thai star Paradorn Srichaphan, who had opened a lot of eyes at the All England Club two months earlier. Then there was Andy.

Dodging the raindrops, he beat Tim Henman, Ivan Ljubicic, Flavio Saretta, Xavier Malisse and Sjeng Schalken without losing a set. Andy also showed he could handle the New York press after Ljubicic ripped him for playing to the crowd. The Croat star claimed the other players were tiring of his antics. The old Andy might have popped off, but he did and said all the right things.

     
 

Meanwhile, as the tournament neared its conclusion, the most American of tennis events was looking decidedly un-American. The Williams sisters had pulled out beforehand, Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport were gone, and Agassi was out of the running. After celebrating his 21st birthday, Andy was the only player left representing the stars and stripes.

In his semifinal match with David Nalbandian, Andy dropped the first two sets. For a while, it looked like the finals would be without an American for the first time since the 1980s. With the crowd still reeling from the departures of Davenport, Capriati and Agassi in the other semis, Andy had none of the usual energy at Flushing Meadow to pump him up. Facing match point in the third set tiebreaker, he fired a pair of aces past a stunned Nalbandian, then took the set three points later. For there, he roared to a five-set victory, winning 12 of the next 16 games.

After the match, Andy returned to his hotel and started to cry. It hit him how close he had come to letting his dream slip through his fingers.

In the final, Andy played French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero. Sticking with his strengths, he squashed the man known as the “Mosquito.” Only once, late in the match, did Andy sit back and trade ground strokes with Ferrero. When that experiment flopped, he got back to the business of winning his first Grand Slam. The final score was 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. Andy rocketed 24 aces in the match to make it 123 for the tournament. Three came in the final game, putting an exclamation point on an already impressive performance.

Andy appeared stunned when Ferrero failed to return serve on match point. He celebrated briefly on the court, then leaped over the camera well into the stands. He hugged Gilbert, kissed Moore and embraced his parents and two brothers in the stands. “I won the U.S. Open, I won the U.S. Open,” he kept repeating. On his way back down to the court, he exchanged high fives with the fans.

What Andy’s showdown with Ferrero lacked in drama, it more than made up for with symbolism. The tournament had opened with a farewell to Sampras, and prior to the men’s final, Connors was saluted on center court. (It was the first time the former champ had set foot there since Andy had witnessed his wonderful run at the 1991 U.S. Open.) Andy’s match against Ferrero featured the kind of dominant performance in which Sampras had long specialized, but with the fire and passion that Connors brought to the game.

Just a week after Andy took over the #1 ranking, he fell to Henman in the Paris Masters. The semifinal loss did not jeopardize his standing, but it did illustrate that Andy still had room to improve—and grow up. He cursed and slammed his racket several times during the match, then pulled himself together and almost roared back from a 1-5 deficit in the final set.

Andy entered the 2004 Australian Open as the top seed and was a heavy favorite to win his second Grand Slam. His quarterfinal match against Marat Safin, however, dumped him from the draw. The lanky Russian played unusually poised tennis to win a three-hour marathon.

Andy rebounded in San Jose to win his first tournament of the season, defeating Mardy Fish in the finals. He lost in the quarters to Henman at Indian Wells, but captured his second tournament at the Miami Masters, beating Carlos Moya, Vincent Spadea and Guillermo Coria in the process.

The French Open was a disaster for the U.S. men, all of whom were ousted by the second round—including Andy. After building a two sets to one lead over Olivier Mutis, he dropped the final two sets. The slow clay of Roland Garros enabled Mutis to deal with Andy’s blistering serve, and as Andy grew impatient, he began to make mistakes. Mutis simply outlasted him.

Andy bounced back on the grass at Queen’s Club and played masterful tennis. He trounced Lleyton Hewitt and Sebastian Grosjean to take the Wimbledon tune-up, then kept the momentum going at the All England Club.

Andy cruised through the Wimbledon draw to a showdown in the final against the red-hot Federer. He looked good in winning the first set 6-4, but in a match that saw two rain delays, Federer took the next two sets. Andy responded by hanging in the fourth set and gaining six break points against his Swiss opponent. Unfortunately, he failed to capitalize, and Federer emerged the victor. Andy put on an awesome display of raw power that had Federer back on his heels at times. His first serve consistently reached the 130s, while his second serve was often as fast as Federer’s first. The champ survived the onslaught, however. Andy simply could not match him shot for shot.

Between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, Andy won in Indianapolis at the RCA Championships for the second straight year. To do so, he needed to save three match points in his semifinal against Ivan Ljubicic. He then overcame German star Nicolas Kiefer in the final. Andy reached the finals of his next event, the Canadian Masters, only to lose to Federer again.

Andy’s next big tournament came as a member of the U.S. Olympic team in Athens. A second-round loss by Federer seemed to guarantee gold for Andy, but he lost his focus and was ousted by Fernando Gonzalez of Chile in the third round—a player he had wiped out in the first round of the 2004 Australian Open. Their Olympic match was close, but a poor call by the umpire broke Andy’s concentration and he never regained his edge.

The next stop for Andy was New York, where he sought to defend his U.S. Open crown. This quest ended in the quarterfinals, when Joachim Johannsen defeated him in a five-set marathon. Federer went on to claim the championship, cementing his #1 ranking.


Andre Agassi, 2001 SI for Kids
     
 

Though Andy had no major wins to show for his 2004 campaign, he had played well enough and won enough events to earn the #2 world ranking, with Hewitt right behind him. Neither man had a chance to catch Federer, however, before the year was out. In December, Andy fired Brad Gilbert and sarted shopping for a new coach.

Andy continued his fine play in 2005, recapturing the U.S. Clay Court title he had won twice before. In July, he reached the Wimbledon final again, but was shot down in straight sets by Federer, who was four years into his remarkable six-year winning streak at the All England Club. Andy hoped to redeem himself at Flushing Meadows, but was ousted in the first round of the U.S. Open by little-known Gilles Müller. All told it wasn’t a bad year. Andy’s five championship was the second-most of his career.

Poor showings in the early tournaments of 2006 and a first-round foot injury in the French Open saw Andy sink in the rankings. When he lost to Andy Murray at Wimbledon, he dropped out of the Top 10 for the first time in since 2002.

With the help of his new coach, Jimmy Connors, Andy began righting his ship during the hardcourt season. He reached the finals at Indianapolis and won the Cincinnati Masters. He was on his game at the U.S. Open, beating Hewitt in the quarterfinals and Mikhail Youzhny in the semis. Unfortuantely, Federer was waiting for him in the finals, and he beat Andy in four sets. Federer also denied Andy the Masters Cup title at the end of the season in a straight-set final.

Federer continued his mastery over Andy in the 2007 Australian Open, beating him in a three-set semifinal. Andy played well that spring, however, creeping back intto the Top 10. He peaked at #3. In a Davis Cup match with Spain, Andy aggravated an earlier hamstring injury. He recovered to win Stella Artois, a warmup for Wimbledon. On England’s grass, however, he could not get out of the quarters, falling to Richard Gasquet in five sets. He played well the rest of the summer and was looking good at the U.S. Open, when he met Federer again and went down to defeat for the 14th time in 15 meetings. Andy finished the year strong, leading the U.S. to the Davis Cup title with wins over Sweden and Russia. He finished the year with a #6 ATP ranking.

Andy won a pair of spring tournaments in 2008, defeating rising star Radek Stepanek in final of the SAP Open, He later beat Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and #2-ranked Rafael Nadal on his way to victory in Dubai. During that tournament, Andy and coach Connors decided to part ways. Andy’s brother John stepped into the void.

Back and shoulder injuries plagued Andy as the '08 season progressed. He missed the French Open entirely and bowed out of Wimbledon in the second round to Janko Tipsarevic. Andy decided to skip the Olympics to get ready for the U.S. Open, but the play backfired when he fell to Djokovic in the quarterfinals. He quit his final event of the year, the Tennis Masters Cup, due to an ankle injury.

Heading into 2009, Andy recommitted himself to fitness and conditioning. He also hired Larry Stefanki to coach him. Stefanki had tutored the likes of John McEnroe, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Marcelo Rios and Tim Henman. His goal was to bring consistency and discipline to his new pupil’s game.

Andy ripped through the Australian Open draw until he met—who else?—Federer in the semifinals. Andy lost again, in straight sets. His first tournament title of '09 came over Stepanek in the Regions Morgan Keegan Championships.

Andy lost to Federer twice more during the spring, but his play improved steadily as he headed toward Wimbledon. Although he was not considered among the favorites for the tournament, that began to change as he made his way into the late rounds. Andy defeated Hewitt in the quarterfinals and Andy Murray in the semis. Many were saying his match against Murray was the best of his life.

They reassessed that opinion two days later, when Andy took yet another crack at Federer in the finals. Andy won the first set and nearly took the second, but Federer fought back to even the match with a brilliant comeback in the tiebrekaer. Federer took the third set in another tiebreaker, and then Andy won the fourth set, 6–3. He still had not lost his serve as the fifth set went into its record-setting 30th game. Federer finally broke him to win.


Andy Roddick, 2002 Tennis
     
 

Andy was on the verge of tears after the final point was played. Needless to say, he had nothing to be ashamed of. Andy’s showed off a clutch backhand, a highly developed repertoire of defensive shots, and no one had ever served more competently in a Grand Slam final. It took the best player in history playing his best to beat Andy.

Andy Andy continued his strong 2009. He reached the finals of his next tournament, in Washington, and the semis a week later in Montreal. He lost both times to Juan Martin del Potro. In the US Open, Andy was seeded #5 but lost in the third round to John Isner. Andy dropped serve just once in the match, just as he had against Federer at Wimbledon. He finished the year on a down note, with an injury to his left knee. Even so, he ended the season ranked #7 in the world.

Andy began 2010 on a positive note, winning his first tournament, the Brisbane International. It marked his 10th straight year with at least one ATP singles championship. A sore shoulder hampered Andy in the Australian Open, and he lost in the quarterfinals to Marin Cilic.

Andy continued to play solid tennis in the spring. At the Ericsson Open, he recovered from a first-set loss to upset Rafael Nadal in the semifinals, and then went on to win the title against Thomas Berdych. Andy did not fare as well in the clay and grass tournaments. By the time the US Open rolled around he had dropped out of the Top 10—it marked the first time since the ATP rankings began that no American was ranked in the men's Top 10. He bowed out in the second round of the Open to Janko Tipsarevic. Andy did regain his Top 10 ranking by the end of the season, finish #8 overall.

Andy started the 2011 season by reaching the final at Brisbane, and later he won the Cellular South Cup in Memphis. Andy also won the deciding match for the US in their opening Davis Cup tilt, against Chile. A sore shoulder led him to pull out of several clay court events, including the French Open, and he still wasn't 100 percent when he lost in the third round at Wimbledon—despite setting a record with a serve clocked at 143 mph.

By the US Open he had dropped out of the Top 20, but he rebounded to reach the quarterfinals, where he was stopped by Nadal. By season's end his ranking improved, but he failed to make the world Top 10 for the first time 2001.

The 2012 season would turn out to be Andy's last. On his 30th birthday, during the US Open, he shocked the tennis world by announcing that he would retirement at the end of the tournament. Among the highlights of his final season were a straight-set win over Federer in an exhibition in Madison Square Garden, and another defeat of Federer in a match that counted, at Indian Wells. His first championship of the season came in June, when he won the AEGON International, a grasscourt tune-up event for Wimbledon. Tuned up or not, at the All-England Club, Andy did not make it past the third round.

Andy won the 32nd and final men's singles title of his career at the Atlanta Open, defeating Isner in the semis and recovering from a 6–1 first-set loss to beat Billes Muller in the finals.

When Andy Roddick burst onto the tennis scene, he carried the impossible burden of carrying the torch forward for one of America's greatest generation of stars. For a time, it looked like he would rule the game. But with the ascent of Federer, Nadal and later Novak Djokivic, his path to Grand Slam immortality proved more difficult than anyone imagined. Even so, Andy leaves the game as one of the most engaging and dynamic personalities in history, not to mention a slam-dunk Hall of Famer.

ANDY THE PLAYER

Andy has the total package. He is big and strong, moves around the court well, and uses his head to stay calm when the pressure is on. Andy’s serve is the most feared in tennis. When it tops out in the low 140s it is almost unreturnable. His second serve is no picnic either.

Andy’s forehand is above average, while his backhand is superb when it’s working and less than superb when it’s not. When Andy has all his weapons working he gets into an awesome rhythm. The challenge is to maintain that level of play for an entire tournament.

The X-factor for Andy is his enormous crowd appeal. Clearly, he feeds off the energy his presence creates. And although many opponents resent him for the connection he makes with fans, it is hard to imagine they need a special incentive to beat him. When you are going up against the guy who’s sitting atop the mountain, you’d better bring your A-game, and then some.

 


Andy Roddick,
2006 Limited Edition Wimbledon Card


 

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